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Doe Network : "Face on a Milk Carton"

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Nyleen Kay Marshall was only 4 years old when she strayed from her family during a picnic in Montana on June 25, 1983. Today, Nyleen would be 25 years old. I often wonder about Nyleen and cases like hers. Cases where a child was young enough to have been abducted by a stranger, and be alive and well, not knowing anyone was missing her.

When I was about 12 years old, I read a fictional book called “The Face on the Milk Carton”. It was about a teenage girl who never knew she was abducted until she saw her own face on a missing children’s bulletin. She did some research and found out the truth. When she was a toddler, she was abducted by strangers and raised as their own child. Even though this was a fictional account of an abduction, I wonder how many cases out there have that same scenario.

Nyleen Marshall could be one of those children. In 1986, authorities received a letter from Wisconsin in which the author claimed to have abducted a girl named “Kay”, Nyleen’s middle name. The letter also gave details about Nyleen and about her abduction which were not released to the general public. The author went on to describe how they had “Kay” and were raising her as their own in a loving family. It read that the abductor, who worked at home had taught her, and they were living on a wealthy investment income. It also stated that the abductor realized that someone was missing her, but that she was loved and they couldn’t let her go.

Could it be possible that almost 21 years after she was last seen, Nyleen Marshall could be out there somewhere? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Steven Stayner was found alive quite a few years after he was abducted, and Elizabeth Smart was kept for almost a year mere miles from her home. How many children, abducted as infants or preschoolers, are still alive and well, never knowing that the parents they love are not their own? If there are as many as there potentially could be, where are they? Do they look a lot like their age progressions? Would they even recognize themselves as they looked before their abduction? There are so many questions.

The author of that letter it turns out, had also made several calls to a missing children’s agency in New York. The calls all came from pay phones in the same area of Wisconsin. If they really had Nyleen, were they just sending a message to let her parents know she was ok? It is so hard to get hopes up in cases like this. Recently, a woman with psychiatric problems and a history of impersonation had called family members of Shannon Marie Sherrill, claiming she was the missing girl. After weeks of conversation, Shannon’s father was convinced against hope that he had found his daughter, who was abducted in 1986. After authorities got involved, the woman’s story unraveled. Shannon’s father was again heartbroken when he found out that it was not his daughter. That hasn’t been the only hoax involving missing children, but we still hope against hope that some of the tips might just be for real.

Cases like Nyleen’s are hard to forget about. There is hope that when she was abducted she was too young to remember, that she is being taken care of and loved somewhere, and someday she will find her way home.

Author: Dana Gonzalez


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